The four sparred at a recent Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, although sparring may be too strong a term. The four mostly agreed on issues that will be before the council in the coming year, while answering a series of questions by moderator Brad Hirst.
The main exception was whether to restart the planning of development on Pleasanton's largely empty 400-acre east side. Ledoux and Streng said yes; Testa and Narum said let's wait a while.
Testa claimed the state wants to take away local control on land-uses in order to build more high-density housing. Proposed legislation would require cities to allow buildings at five to 10 stories tall along mass-transit lines. In Pleasanton, that would include BART, ACE Train and even Wheels bus routes.
"I want our next generation, teachers and first responders to be able to afford housing in Pleasanton," Testa said. "These high-density requirements will not accomplish that goal. They would allow 80-90% high-end market rate housing, with only 10-20% for low income, affordable units."
Narum agreed. She said that before adding more high-density housing here, we need to address the "elephant" in the room -- which is the infrastructure needed to support it. This includes the need for expanded and upgraded schools, water, sewage and much more.
"We have to make sure we have adequate infrastructure to support additional housing," Narum said.
The four candidates said they support the planned Costco membership store on Johnson Drive and pair of five-story hotels next door.
"About two-thirds of Pleasanton voters supported Costco," Streng said. "I voted for it because I think we should be keeping our tax dollars right here in Pleasanton and not driving to Livermore (to shop at Costco)."
He's glad the city is taking a new look at an environmental impact report on the Johnson Drive site. "Eventually, we'll move forward with Costco," he added. "When that starts, this will have been one of the most heavily vetted projects in the history of Pleasanton, and I think that's a good thing."
Asked about Assembly Bill 2923 that would essentially allow BART to develop properties on its current parking lots, including at the East Pleasanton station in Hacienda, Streng said BART is a transit agency, not a real estate developer.
"It should focus on keeping its trains safe, clean and running on time," he added.
Narum agreed, calling the bill now on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk "probably one of the worst pieces of legislation I've seen in the last 20 years."
With strong opposition from all four council candidates, it's likely that they would support challenging the bill in court, if it's signed by Brown.
"What's the legality is of a transit agency controlling our housing and planning housing in our community with no input from us, yet we have to supply services, such as police, fire, schools and more?" Narum asked.
The four will go at it again before a larger audience this Monday at the Pleasanton Weekly's candidate forum, a 90-minute program that starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Civic Center's council chamber at 200 Old Bernal Ave.
That forum will also be carried live on Tri-Valley Community Television's Channel 29 and rebroadcast several times before the election.
The Pleasanton Chamber's candidates forum was videotaped by Roberta Gonzales Productions for viewing on the chamber's website.
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